Aside from Australia, no nation is better to connected to New Zealand, with so many ports, than the United States. Air New Zealand’s trusty Trans-Pacific flights connect Auckland non-stop with New York, Chicago, Houston, Honolulu, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
I recently flew to San Francsico and home from Los Angeles on Air New Zealand’s direct services, experiencing Business Premier on the outbound flight, and happily ensconced in Premium Economy on the homebound service from LAX. Both flights dutifully departed on time and arrived just ahead of schedule.
For the best sleep in the sky across the Pacific, and high-altitude indulgence, splash out on Business Premier. You’ll be entitled you to complimentary lounge access, premium check-in and luxurious leather armchair seating with ample personal space and it converts into a fully lie-flat bed. On my flight to San Francisco, serviced by a 777-300, my 56cm-wide leather armchair converted into a 2 metre-long bed. It’s one of the airline world’s longest lie-flat beds and I clocked up a solid 6 hours in the land of Nod, across the Pacific, feeling refreshed and rested on arrival in San Francisco.
Photo / AirNZ
Business Premier also entitles you to two pieces of carry on (up to 14kg in total, with one item weighing up to 10kg), plus three pieces of checked luggage (up to 23kg each.) In-flight service was exceptionally friendly, outgoing and personable, characteristically acquitted in a convivial, quintessentially Kiwi manner. The Business Premier menu is statement Aotearoa, a celebration of Kiwi culinary verve and fresh, seasonal ingredients.
For my main dinner dish, I plumped for the grass-fed New Zealand lamb rump with horopito rub and balsamic rosemary jus. You can customise it with some selected sides like charred broccolini with almonds or roasted vegetables. For dessert, the baked lemon citrus tart with passionfruit mascarpone cream was sinfully delicious. As the American mainland came into view, breakfast was certainly worth waking for. The banana, passionfruit and mango smoothies are such a hit. For a main, I highly recommend the smoked salmon and agria potato hash cakes with leeks, hollandaise sauce and scrambled eggs.
Photo / AirNZ
The beverage service was comprehensive and generous. As a general rule of thumb, I avoid consuming alcohol when I’m flying, but I did surrender to a small glass of bubbles, given the excellent choice on offer. Laurent-Perrier Brut NV is Air New Zealand’s in-flight Champagne.
On my homebound flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, I settled into the Premium Economy cabin, which I found surprisingly roomier than I envisaged. My super-comfortable ink-coloured luxury leather seats was equipped with generous armrests, a leg rest and extendable foot support. The cabin was chocka, but you’ll value the sense of personal space Premium accords. I’ve experienced Premium Economy with other carriers, but Air New Zealand’s offering has the largest seat pitch in its class, with 50% more recline than Economy. My seat had a pitch of 104cm, 23 cm recline, 49cm wide, accentuated with a 13cm-wide armrest.
Premium Economy entitles you to two pieces of carry on (up to 14kg in total, with one item weighing up to 10kg), plus two pieces of checked luggage (up to 23kg each.) Flying out from LAX, I couldn’t resist opting for the Alaskan cod as my dinner main, which was accompanied with green olive tapenade crust, chickpea smash, roasted fennel and smoked tomatoes. Absolutely sensational. The praline cheesecake with caramel sauce was a winning dessert, ushering me into a quiet food coma as we darted south of Hawaii, deep into the night. As the first rays of daylight gilded Northland, the banana oat pancakes with blueberry compote and vanilla syrup was the perfect sugar-hit breakfast to awaken me from my slumber as touchdown approached.
Photo / AirNZ
Across all classes, Air New Zealand serves up an excellent array of on-demand entertainment, with a sweeping range of audio and video spanning the most recent blockbuster movies, TV programmes, exclusive audio programmes, and a superb CD collection of music. A winning new initiative that Air New Zealand has just rolled out across all 18 widebody jets is the live Sport TV channel. Sport 24 connects you to unmissable sporting events including the Rugby World Cup, Premier League, US Open, NRL, AFL, NFL, and much more. It was quite the novelty to watch the All Blacks live at 37,000 feet.
Air New Zealand has also launched a trusty baggage tracking feature to its app. Whether you’re travelling on the airline’s domestic or international services, you can now track the last recorded status of your bag as it makes its way through the airport processing system, onto the aircraft, and finally, arrives at its destination. Planning a trip to the Stars & Stripes? For best fares and seats to suit, jump to www.airnewzealand.co.nz
Mike Yardley is our resident traveller on Jack Tame Saturday Mornings.
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